Centers of Power in the Arab Gulf States


How are authority and influence accumulated and wielded across the six Gulf states? Mixing theoretical and empirical insights, and utilising both historical and contemporary examples, this book offers a comparative analysis of military, political, economic and religious power in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, as well as of the power of narrative.

While many volumes examine each of these states individually, Centers of Power in the Arab Gulf States assesses the Arabian Peninsula as a whole, filling a significant gap in the literature. It surveys the myriad factors which have influenced the emergence of these states, societies and political economies, which have become increasingly assertive actors in today’s global order.

Exploring domestic, regional and transnational pressures, Kristian Coates Ulrichsen sheds light on the varying concepts of power and authority, the different forms they take, the ways they are projected, and the practical constraints on their exercise. From whom does power derive? Is it something different from influence and ambition? Is decision-making top-down or bottom-up, or a mixture of both? From bureaucrats to scholars, and from royals to opposition figures, Coates Ulrichsen uncovers the power relations shaping the Gulf today.


Kristian Coates Ulrichsen is Fellow for the Middle East at Rice University’s Baker Institute for Public Policy, and an associate fellow of Chatham House’s Middle East and North Africa programme. His books with Hurst include Qatar and the Gulf CrisisThe First World War in the Middle EastInsecure Gulf; and The Changing Security Dynamics of the Persian Gulf.

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